My Blog Tour Begins . . . With a Post About Blog Tours

Today I begin officially the Summer 2014 Plunder of Souls Blog Tour, and I thought it might be fun to kick off this year’s tour with a post about how I go about putting one together.  Blog tours can be much more than just a chance to self-promote, although obviously that’s the goal that lies at the root of all this work.  Tours of this kind can be fun, they can be an excuse to try new things and be truly creative not only with our publicity, but also with our books, our characters, and our setting.

For those who are not familiar with my Thieftaker Chronicles series, or who have not followed my past tours, summer blog tours have become something of a tradition for me.  Beginning with the publication in 2012 of Thieftaker, and continuing last summer with the release of Thieves’ Quarry, I have sought to introduce people to my work by visiting as many web sites as I can in the weeks immediately before and after the release dates.  Since the books are historical urban fantasies set in pre-Revolutionary Boston, the releases, including this year’s, have all coincided with the July 4th holiday.  And so, too, have my tours.  Setting up such tours is not a revolutionary idea of course (pun only partially intended), but it has worked for me.

I begin my planning of the tour in early May, usually after finishing work on one book manuscript or another.  Writers are always working, be it on the actual writing of a book, on our research, or on our promo work, and I feel no compunction about setting aside what we commonly think of as “writing” in order to devote myself full-time to the promotional work.  Most years, my first step is to contact possible hosts:  friends with active blogs, review sites, online magazines, and other sites with connections to our genre.  This year, with the Thieftaker Chronicles well established, I have focused my search for host sites on those that have reviewed the previous books (and liked them).  I have found that most web hosts are happy to welcome authors, not only because they are generous and eager to help with promotion, but also because when we generate content for a given day, the host doesn’t have to.  I know that I’m always happy to have guest authors on my blogs.  So call me . . .

Around the same time I begin to book my appearances, I also begin to generate content.  I will often have ideas of posts I want to write.  For the Plunder of Souls tour, for instance, I knew that I would want to write about some of the issues that came up as I wrote the book.  This is the third book in the Thieftaker Chronicles, so I have written one post on some of the things I did to keep the series fresh and make this book familiar to returning readers, but also different enough to capture and hold their interest.  The story takes place during a smallpox outbreak in 1769, so I wrote a post about some of the things I learned about smallpox and its treatment in the mid-eighteenth century.  This novel grows out of a short story that I wrote and published a couple of years ago, and so I have a post that focuses on using short fiction to prompt story ideas in longer form.  These are just some ideas that I had.  I knew that some of my hosts would want material that was tailored to their site.  I knew that others would want to provide me with their own interview questions.  But I have learned as well that many hosts don’t have anything specific in mind, and I have found that they respond well when I have ideas ready.

I will also write up interviews of my own, in which I anticipate some of the more common questions I’m asked.  (“Tell us about the Thieftaker Chronicles.”  “How does the new book fit with the rest of the series?”  Why did you choose to write about pre-Revolutionary Boston?”  “How has your academic background helped with your fantasy writing?”  “What will you be working on next?”) Finally, I will take the opportunity to write up some more creative posts.  Interviews of my characters, flash fiction set in my Thieftaker universe, including collaborations with a host or two — last year my friend Faith Hunter and I wrote a short piece together featuring the hero of the Thieftaker Chronicles, Ethan Kaille, and the title character of Faith’s Jane Yellowrock series.  That was tremendous fun.  I also wrote a piece in which Ethan gave a walking tour of 1768 Boston.  These posts tend to be my favorites to write.  They force me to come up with unconventional ideas, and they allow me to play with my characters in new and exciting ways.

My goal, in these weeks of preparation, is to have as many blog tour stops as possible scheduled well in advance, and then to have much of my content written ahead of time.  I intend to do some traveling around the time of the book’s release.  I have a con to attend (ConGregate, complete with the official A Plunder of Souls launch party!) and then I will be going on a short signing tour, as I did for the first two Thieftaker releases.  (A schedule of all my appearances can be found here.)  And I know that as word of the book’s release spreads, I will be contacted by additional sites interested in hosting me or posting interviews.  I won’t have a lot of free time, and so writing posts in the weeks leading up to the release and Blog Tour frees up my later schedule, allowing me to say yes to as many of these later opportunities as possible.

The final step in this process, of course, comes during the blog tour itself.  I announce every stop on my blogs, on my Facebook page, on my twitter accounts.  And I make a point of being an active and attentive guest.  I take time out of my day to thank my host publicly on the site and to respond to any comments left by readers.  Sometimes Blog Tour appearances will include giveaways of books or other goodies, and I am happy to provide these materials.  The point is to engage new readers, to generate interest in my work.  But it’s also just a nice way to interact with readers and other writers.  The last thing I want to do is alienate either my hosts or their followers.

Those are the basics.  I’m happy to answer questions about blog tours or the Thieftaker books.  And if you’re interested, a schedule of my stops on this year’s tour can be found on the D.B. Jackson web site.
*****
D.B. Jackson is also David B. Coe, the award-winning author of more than a dozen fantasy novels. His first two books as D.B. Jackson, the Revolutionary War era urban fantasies, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry, volumes I and II of the Thieftaker Chronicles, are both available from Tor Books in hardcover and paperback. The third volume, A Plunder of Souls, will be released in hardcover on July 8. The fourth Thieftaker novel, Dead Man’s Reach, is in production and will be out in the summer of 2015. D.B. lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two teenaged daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.

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David B. Coe

David B. Coe (http://www.DavidBCoe.com) is the Crawford award-winning author of the LonTobyn Chronicle, the Winds of the Forelands quintet, the Blood of the Southlands trilogy, and a number of short stories. Writing as D.B. Jackson (http://www.dbjackson-author.com), he is the author of the Thieftaker Chronicles, a blend of urban fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. David is also part of the Magical Words group blog (http://magicalwords.net), and co-author of How To Write Magical Words: A Writer’s Companion. In 2010 he wrote the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Visit site.

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